• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming and home schooling. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 16/Grade 11, 14/Grade 9, and 13/Grade 8.

    Contact me at becky.farmschool@gmail.com

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    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."
    Cicero

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Honoring domesticity

I’ve started looking for a graduation gift for one of our nieces, and just borrowed the library’s copy of Get Crafty: Hip Home Ec by Jean Railla — which came out of her Get Crafty website — to see if it might be a possibility, along with a nifty homemade card and some cash tucked in between the pages.

I was expecting a hipper version of Flylady, but discovered “third-wave feminism” instead. Who knew? [Alright, maybe you did. But I'm old, and stuck in the mud for good measure.] In her introduction, Ms. Railla quotes Debbie Stoller of Bust and Stitch ‘n Bitch fame:

…although we may not be aware of it, we have bought into the lie that women are inferior so we set out to be more like men: important, big, self-centered, and good at getting ours.

[Stoller]…believes that if women want to achieve complete equality, we have to honor domesticity. “We already know what’s respectable and fulfilling about the workplace — basically going out and making money — and there is a certain amount of pride and independence in doing that.” Debbie continues, “But I think we need to relearn what’s valuable and fulfilling in the private sector. The home, children, crafts, and making things.”

What if, instead of dismissing domesticity, we thought of it as an important part of women’s culture. Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that every woman should enjoy knitting [phew...] or cooking or embroidery. But I am suggesting that we give women’s work its props as something valuable, interesting, and important, just as knowing how to build a house, keeping accounting records, or playing basketball is. Skill, love, and creativity go into creating a nice home, making things by hand, and raising children. It’s not stupid, and it’s not easy; it’s damn hard work that we need to respect. Moreover, it’s our history, and dismissing it only doubles the injustice already done to women who didn’t have any choice but to be domestic in the first place.

Just the ideas I’d like my niece to take with her and start contemplating as she begins her new adventure.

I’m not the only one with high school graduation on my mind, though it’s much more immediate for Mrs. G. at Derfwad Manor. Her (home educated — aha!) Miss G. received not just the big fat envelope but also one dandy luggage tag. Farm School felicitations to the G Family!

4 Responses

  1. Thanks for your kind words regarding Miss G. and our family.

    How dull and stressful our family lives would be if we did not spend the time and energy and love turning our living space (because that’s really all a structure is) into a HOME. Creating and keeping a home is, in my mind, one of the most important jobs on the planet. We all do it differently and some days it sucks, but, if we’re lucky, where do we spend the majority of our lives? Yep, in a home.

  2. I think you have grasped the key to this problem… we, as women, have been taught that keeping a home is not a fulfilling and respectable occupation. If we do not recognize the value in, and the huge amount of HARD work that keeping a home and a family entails. How can we expect to convince others?

  3. I think about this a lot when I’m at academic parties – and answering that thorny question: “So, what do YOU do?” And I think about when I’m reading books like The Long Winter to my kids. In one chapter, the Ingalls family have run out of coal and kerosene, and while Ma and Pa bemoan their reliance on “modern conveniences,” Ma gets to work on a button lamp, using a rag, some axle grease, and a saucer. Now there’s a woman who knew how to keep a home running no matter what. I am constantly impressed at her resolution AND ingenuity.
    Why the concept of ‘keeping a house’ should end up in the realm of the boring and the mundane saddens me. There’s so much more to it than that.

  4. I hate it when feminism is reduced to a decision. It isn’t a matter of choosing a career outside the home, or choosing one within it. It isn’t a matter of choosing to have children, or choosing not to have them. It isn’t any of those kinds of polarities at all.

    IMO, a real feminist is one who knows that she can do whatever she wants to in life — and then, goes and does it without making excuses for it.

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